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U.S. military officials are growing increasingly concerned that Russia may be scouting for weak spots in the underwater cables the U.S. relies on for global communications and commerce, The New York Times reported.

American military and intelligence officials told the Times that Moscow might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict.

Currently, Russian submarines and spy ships are operating with greater frequency near the undersea cables, which carry almost all global Internet communications, the paper reported.

Officials are concerned those cables could be cut in locations that are hardest to access, disrupting those vital communications links, the Times said.

For the Pentagon, the increase in Russian naval activities is a source of intense focus.

While military assessments of Russian underwater capabilities are classified, as are any countermeasures that are being plotted by the U.S., more than a dozen officials confirmed “in broad terms” that Russian activities had become a subject of scrutiny by the Pentagon, the Times reported.

“It would be a concern to hear any country was tampering with communication cables; however, due to the classified nature of submarine operations, we do not discuss specifics,” Cmdr. William Marks, a Navy spokesman in Washington, was quoted as saying.

In private, U.S. military and intelligence officials told the Times that they were monitoring increased Russian activity along the known cable routes. Of particular concern, the Times said, is that the Russians may be looking for vulnerable spots along those routes at great depths, where cuts would be harder to find and fix.

The U.S. also maintains special cables in secret locations for military operations. U.S. officials are concerned the Russians are searching for those lines, too, the Times said.

The global economy is highly dependent on underwater cables, through which transactions of more than $10 trillion a day pass.

news@stripes.com


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